The first time I got in a lightweight, planing
dingy, I learned two things:
The first was that in a fresh breeze on a reach when the boat jumps up on a
plane-there was no MORE EXCITING experience to be had in a sailboat! The second
was that after I turtled that I realized I was too old for this stuff! So the
inspiration came… how to have the first experience and do away with the second.
With lots of encouragement from an enthusiastic and talented friend like Paul
Keller, a master model maker, the thought of building something to suit my
desires was not out of the question. The first order of business was to come up
with a wish list which got refined as follows:
1) Easy and comfortable to single hand and go fast. Doing regattas solo
was a must.
2) Taking an occasional passenger without torturing them.
3) ZERO maintenance.
4) Light weight, easy to rig and launch.
5) Relatively inexpensive…. No exotic materials.
6) Racy looking…. Traditional looks are usually heavy and hard.
7) Difficult to capsize.
8) An engineered location for your “beverage” of choice.
9) To be determined...
With these set of goals, we set about the drawing board (ok, so it was a
computer) doing some trial and error stuff with shapes, waterlines, wetted
surfaces etc. Thinking that we had a good design, I set about cutting templates
and framestations during my Christmas vacation of ‘96. With lots of help from
Kenny Allen and Paul, we had the hull mold completed and the first boat sailing
with a very makeshift plywood deck during April of ‘97. The first rudder and
dagger-board were carved from mahogany planks and the spar was made from four
pieces of aluminum, each a different diameter and stiffness. Joe Waters of
Waters Sails lent us a used sail from a US I and we were proudly off sailing.
Little did we know, however, that our real work had just begun.
With the makeshift deck and no floatation in the wings, every time a puff hit,
the wings would act like water scoops and we would get to find out how the self
bailing cockpit worked…. frequently! We entered a few regattas starting out with
a 96.5 Portsmouth rating. Needless to say, our rating was not questioned. The
boat was slow in light air and would fill up with water in heavy air. However,
on one heavy air day on a broad reach we did see some boat speeds in the low
teens. Not to be discouraged we finished our deck mold during the winter of ‘97
and added a prototype deck to our creation. With wings that would now support
hiking out, we knew we had a diamond in the rough on the first
test sail. We named our first creation “The Victim” because we knew what we were
going to put it through.
With much mast and sail tweaking, performance and satisfaction were beginningto
appear. Sail number 5 gave us better performance and now some improvements were
necessary in the hull shape. Back to Paul’s shop for two weeks and “The Victim”
was back in the water with more floatation in the stern and less transom drag.
Performance and stability were both improved. It was now time to test for our
design criteria no. 7. We found that the only way to capsize in light to medium
air was to climb the mast several feet and pull the boat over. Once down, the
hull would self right when the mast was released. Grab onto the wing and it will
pull you back in too!
We were starting to finish in the money in a few regattas and things were
looking very up. At last, our rating was beginning to be questioned; a true
indication that we were doing good. The last serious trial we wanted to put the
design through was to try it out in some big seas. Christmas vacation of '98
provided the setting for this criterion on the Atlantic coast in Del Rey Beach,
Florida. Tough duty, but someone had to do it. Launching off the beach into the
surf was exciting as the breakers rolled over the boat and me. The oversized
drain ports in the transom were very efficient and as the rollers passed, the
boat was sailing before I was ready. I spent about three hours in five to six
foot swells and in about 10 kts. of wind. It was wet and fun and the boat
It was at last time to incorporate the changes learned from “The Victim” into
the molds and make a “for real” boat. We added an untried change to the bow
section at the same time but were confident it would be an improvement. The
first hull out of the “real” molds went to Paul. He christened it “Pandora” just
in time for the ‘99 Cherry Blossom Regatta in Macon, Georgia. With a new Mylar
sail design from Waters Sail Loft and the new hull being some 80 pounds lighter
than The Victim, the performance of the boat was pleasing to say the least.
With less than a year of sailing experience, Paul finished near the front of
the fleet and scored second in the day-sailor class behind our other prototype
(The Victim) Raider. The improved boat speed of Pandora however, was apparent.
The next hull out of the mold was mine and we
finished it just in time for the ‘99 Mug Race. I wish we hadn’t. Yours
truly got severely T’boned by a Morgan 25 and I was out of commission
months. The Raider survived much better than I did. Paul had it looking
new within a few hours work. I wished he could have done the same for
me! While I was laid up, the development went on. New carbon fiber spars
and blade sections were developed that were faster and more durable than
the old. More regattas were entered resulting in more complaints about
the rating. This was good! We lowered it to 93.5. It was starting to be
real fun! We let Yevgeniy Burmotav and Joe Waters have the next new
boats for a few regattas and the results were startling. In September
‘99 we finally got a rating from US Sailing of 91.5. Mission
The story continued...
In the fall of 2000, a
larger mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker was added to the package and many other new rig
innovations were incorporated during 2001. In the fall of 2002 after hull number
#25 had been built, Johannsen Boat Works of Vero Beach, Florida was chosen as
the manufacturing and development facility for the Raider line. In 2003, radial
cut, Mylar sails became standard equipment on all the
boats. Near disaster struck Johannsen Boat Works in late summer 2004
with the one-two punch of Hurricanes
Frances and Jeanne in the Vero Beach area. Luckily, there was little or
no damage to the production molds and the operation was able to be
restarted. In 2005, improvements continued as composite foils finished
in gel-coat were added as standard.
In the autumn of 2009 with the hull count approaching 100 units, Johannsen
solicited master sailor Dave Ellis to help in the re-design and development of
the new Raider II series incorporating the jib. Ellis was supplied with a
modified Raider and a jib furnished by Joe Waters of Waters Sails in South
Carolina to undertake an extensive testing program.
Much experimenting was done with the mast rake, jib lead position, spinnaker
launch and retrieval systems and blades; and after many test sails in various
recommendations for changes to help the
boat reach it's maximum potential were submitted by Ellis to the rest of
the Raider design team. Johannsen took the hull plug to master shaper,
Paul Keller, of Georgia, who reworked the bow, gave the hull more
rocker and moved the dagger-board trunk forward a couple of inches to
balance the jib. The result was a more balanced rig with less wetted
surface and much better wave entry. More innovations were added, testing
continued and by June 2010, the formal production launch of the Raider
II series of boats took place. The Portsmouth rating is now down to 89.1
for the jib and spinnaker equipped boats!
2014, the Raider II Turbo received another upgrade;
a choice of either a conventional asymetrical spinnaker or a new furling screecher sail with Harken
furler mounted on a retractable carbon fiber bow sprit.
So whether it be the refined combination of
mainsail and jib on the Raider II Sport or the spinnaker/screecher equipped Turbo
operating at peak hull performance, the boat is suitable to a wide range
of sailing conditions, applications and abilities. And the Raider
"team" is committed to keeping it that way!